“Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Jesus enters the synagogue – (note, He is an example we can point to for not forsaking the assembling together) and Jesus taught. The people see a contrast in the way Jesus teaches from the scribes: “He taught as one having authority.” I want to mention first that Jesus worked within the structure of the ‘church’ at the time. I don’t have a problem with the current movement of more home churches springing up, and there very well may be a reason for it. But God is still also using the organized church, at least some of them. There are 2 verses that speak about church and church leaders: Jesus tells us how to attend the building called church in Matthew 23:1-8:
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.'”
There are many problems with places of worship in our days. But that is no different than what Jesus dealt with. And He still entered the synagogue. It’s easy to miss the first part of what Jesus just said here, and jump straight to all the things He says is wrong with the church leaders. Jesus starts this off by saying – observe and do. Just don’t do it like they do, in the hypocritical format that we also see so prevalent this day. But Jesus does not say: if you see things the right things being done with wrong motives, don’t go to church. If you leave, then who will speak with the people sitting there week to week and show them the true love of Christ? Now, this is different from false teachers. Obviously, we don’t stay there. But if it’s a case of church leaders not doing what they preach, being puffed up and prideful, looking to enlarge their own fame, if they are teaching the truth, we can still take it and learn from it. The other verse that comes to mind is Hebrews 10:24-25:
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Now is the time to even more so be diligent as we see the end coming near. Don’t give up on church. Get with other believers, however you can, and be a beacon of love in the midst of so much fake.
Now about Jesus teaching: He also said in Matthew in the verses following in chapter 10 not to let anyone call you teacher; the only true Teacher is Jesus. And now He is in heaven preparing us a place, we have the Holy Spirit in us, teaching us (1 John 2:27):
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
Does this mean we don’t need to go to church, don’t need pastors and Bible teachers? No, that would be absurd, because the Bible talks about people with these gifts so much, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31:
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do al speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
God appoints these people. Jesus commands us to go and preach (Matthew 28:18-20): “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We do not teach on our own authority, but on Jesus’ authority and power. We are nothing of ourselves. God appoints, and Jesus gives the words and power. And we are to approach all this about church, teachers, leaders, with prayer and fervent love, the more excellent way.
Lastly, 1 Peter 4:7-11:
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”